Why I moved my startup from San Francisco to San Diego
San Francisco has long been hailed the home of the tech startup — the place to be for entrepreneurs looking to lay the foundation for the next big thing. As a mobile app platform with high aspirations, we joined the mix, sharing an area code for four years with the lauded engineers of Silicon Valley and inserting ourselves into the supposed center of the tech world.
It seemed like the best possible move. And for a while, it was.
In Silicon Valley, you rub elbows with enormous talent and inspiration seems to grow on trees. But after a while, the glamour of San Francisco can outweigh its benefits. The high cost of living, extreme recruiting competition and lengthy commutes take their toll on companies regardless of their success. VC-backed companies with irresponsible hiring practices scorch the land for the rest, cultivating an environment where getting ahead means pouring money into areas with little return on investment.
At Bizness Apps — ranked one of the fastest-growing companies in America by Inc. two years in a row — we’ve experienced the flip side of the Bay Area allure. Our rapid momentum was eventually slowed by San Francisco’s saturation, which prevented us from securing the A-players we needed to continue trending upward. Plus, the thought of signing a five- or 10-year lease was less than ideal. As TechCrunch reported, “In January, office rents in San Francisco eclipsed those of New York to become the most expensive in the country.”
The cons stacking up, we made the tough decision. This spring, Bizness Apps will leave the holy grail of tech behind and relocate to San Diego, which could be the tech haven of tomorrow. Here’s why you should, too.
The cost of living is out of control
It’s no joke. San Francisco is expensive. The average two-bedroom apartment hovers around $4,200 per month, making it hard to justify living here unless you’re raking in hundreds of thousands per year. In contrast, you would need around $4,900 in San Diego to maintain the same standard of living you get with $8,100 in San Francisco.
From an employer’s perspective, reducing your employees’ cost of living essentially equates to giving them a 30-50 percent raise. Let’s face it, it’s hard to pay the salaries San Francisco demands. We faced this across all roles, and recognized that relocating meant we’d get more on the dollar and give our employees a much higher quality of life at the same salary.
Be a big fish in a small pond
San Francisco sees the world’s best in terms of tech talent, so it’s easy to assume that if you want the best, this is where you should be. In reality, the recruiting war has never been bleaker. Here you’re competing with not just the biggest names in tech, but in the world. Google, Uber, Twitter, Zenefits, Apple and hundreds of other “unicorns” have more than enough leverage to swoop in on talent before startups even hear the echo of a name.
IDEA1 is the first step to establishing the District’s vision of becoming San Diego’s design + technology innovation hub. We will achieve this goal by mixing all of the critical uses – office, residential, and retail – in a way that encourages interaction between inhabitants of this block and the larger community. The design principles that support an innovation ecosystem are on display in this project to act as an inspiration for other I.D.E.A. District designers and developers.